VINCE SHEHEEN’S CLOSEST ALLY: ETHICS REFORM CAN WAIT
Does Vince Sheheen Agree That Ethics Reform Doesn’t Matter To Us, Is Not Senate Priority?
Yesterday, Vince Sheheen’s friend and Senate Democrat colleague made the declaration that “what people are talking to me about is roads, not ethics,” and that the limited time left in this legislative session should not be spent reforming our ethics laws. In response, Chad Connelly, Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, released the following statement:
“Since last year, the focus of the people of South Carolina and our Republican elected officials has been on ethics reform, and yesterday we saw the commitment of our governor, Attorney General, and the Republican Senate to finish the job this session,” Connelly said. “But there’s a different tune being sung by the Democrats in the Senate, whether it be Vince Sheheen complaining the bill has been ‘rushed’ or now Brad Hutto openly admitting ethics reform is not a priority.”
While we appreciate Sen. Hutto’s honesty – he doesn’t care about ethics reform and it’s nice to hear him say it – his statement raises a number of important questions.
- Will Vince Sheheen make any effort to get Brad Hutto and the rest of his Senate Democrat colleagues to stop stonewalling the most significant ethics reform in decades?
- Does Vince Sheheen agree with Brad Hutto that the people of South Carolina don’t care about ethics reform?
- Why do Vince Sheheen and Brad Hutto want to prevent South Carolinians from learning more about how much, and why, their elected officials are paid?
“Vince Sheheen has been silent on the obstruction of the Senate Democrats, but leadership sometimes means putting politics aside and doing what is right,” Connelly continued. “I understand that Senator Sheheen may be afraid to explain why his annual income has quadrupled since he got to the legislature, to reveal how much money he has made suing South Carolina, or to buck his fellow Democrats, but his personal political ambitions matter far less than ethics reform. It’s time for Vince Sheheen to stand up for the people of South Carolina.”
Brad Hutto Says People Don’t Care About Ethics, Shouldn’t Be Focus Of End Of Session. “‘What people are talking to me about is roads, not ethics. If we have limited time we should focus on roads,’” Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said.” (Adam Beam, “SC governor Urges Senate To Pass Ethics Reform,” The State, 5/21/13)
Vince Sheheen On May 7: We Shouldn’t Rush This Bill. Sheheen:“I’m concerned that, you know, if you rush through a bill today that doesn’t accomplish what we want it to accomplish that’s not serving the public and I’m very concerned with that.” (Senator Vince Sheheen, Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 5/7/13)
- Even Though Process Of Reforming Ethics Laws Started As Far Back As Last August. “South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley wants legislators to abolish the state House and Senate ethics committees, saying lawmakers should not be policing themselves. It’s part of a five-point ethics reform package that Haley proposed in a whirlwind statewide tour with Attorney General Alan Wilson on Wednesday.” (Matt Long, “Governor Calls For Revamp Of House And Senate Ethics Laws,” South Carolina Radio Network, 8/22/12)
- A Bipartisan Report By The Governor’s Commission Made Sweeping Recommendations In January. “A panel led by two former attorneys general has released 23 recommendations on how to overhaul South Carolina’s ethics laws. Former attorneys general Henry McMaster and Travis Medlock co-chaired the committee that Gov. Nikki Haley created in October.” (Seanna Adcox, “Ethics Panel Created By Gov. Haley Releases Report,” Associated Press, 1/28/13)
- And The Senate’s “Dean On Ethics Issues” Filed Ethics Reform Bills The First Week Of February. “[Senator Wes Hayes], widely considered that body’s dean on ethics issues, introduced bills Wednesday to require legislators to disclose all their sources of income, force political committees to reveal their financial backers and stop lawmakers from policing themselves. (Andrew Shain, “SC Senate Ethics Dean Proposes Reforms,” The State, 2/7/13)
- Sheheen’s Income Has “About Quadroupled” Since He Became A Legislator. “Sheheen’s income has about quadrupled to $372,509 in 2009 from $93,668 in 2001, according to tax records, since he entered the Legislature.” (John O’Connor, “Sheheen Firm Profits From State Government,” The State, 10/11/10)